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Accountability court refuses to exempt Sharifs from personal appearance

ISLAMABAD: The accountability court here on Thursday discarded a plea filed by Sharifs, seeking an exemption from personal appearance before the court.

Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir conducted trial in three corruption references, namely Al-Azizia Steel Mills, Flagship Investments and Avenfield, against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law MNA Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar.

During the court proceedings today, Sharif’s counsel pleaded the judge to grant his client a permission to visit his ailing wife in London by exempting the three from personal appearance before the court from February 19 to March 5.

NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Muzaffar Abbasi opposed the plea and contended that the Supreme Court’s deadline to wrap up the case is approaching, as he said, the month of March is nearing.

The deputy prosecutor said Sharif’s two sons have already been declared proclaimed offenders in the case and the case should not be further delayed.

The accountability judge then reserved a decision on the plea which was announced later today.

Prosecution witnesses testify against Sharifs 

Four prosecution witnesses recorded their statements before the court in the graft references filed against the former premier and his family members.

The defence lawyers cross-examined the witnesses.

Mubashir Tauqir Shah recorded his statement before the court and said a CD containing volume 5 of Panamagate JIT report has been handed over to NAB officer on February 5, besides providing the investigation officer (IO) a 12-page interview transcript of Hassan Nawaz’s interview to BBC.

Maryam’s lawyer Amjad Pervez asked the witness whether the investigation officer documented your statement.

To which, he said the IO didn’t document his statement rather took signature on a memo.

NAB requests Interior Ministry to put Sharifs on no-fly list 

On Wednesday, the anti-graft body wrote to the interior ministry to place former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, and son-in-law retired Captain Safdar on the no-fly list.

The bureau’s request to place Sharif and members of his family on the Exit Control List (ECL) came on the heels of their application seeking exemption from appearance before an accountability court to travel to London.

The anti-graft watchdog wrote a letter to the interior ministry, asking it to include the names of the former premier, his daughter and son-in-law on the ECL.

However, it remains to be seen whether Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal directs his ministry to place his party chief Nawaz Sharif on the ECL.

The NAB had already approached the ministry to have the name of former finance minister Ishaq Dar on the ECL, but it had yet not taken any action in this regard.

The bureau filed supplementary references against Sharif and his sons – Hussain and Hassan Nawaz – in Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investment cases today.

The references were filed in an accountability court in the federal capital following approval from NAB chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal.

New evidences gathered against the Sharif family have been made a part of the supplementary references. The Flagship Investment reference contained additional information about the ruling family’s offshore companies.

On Tuesday, the accountability court expressed displeasure over the NAB’s delay in the filing of supplementary references.

Judge Muhammad Bashir issued a notice to the NAB director general to come up with an explanation as to why the bureau has failed to file the references as yet.

He was irked when a NAB prosecutor sought more time to file the references against Sharif.

Last week, the bureau had served a notice to the former premier to appear before it to record his statement in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investment cases. However, he didn’t turn up.

Sharif along with his sons-Hussain and Hassan – has been named in three NAB references, while his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt. Safdar have been nominated in a reference with regard to the Sharif family’s London-based Avenfield properties.

The references were filed in compliance with the Supreme Court’s July 28 verdict last year.

The bureau had earlier filed a supplementary reference against the former premier and members of his family in the Avenfield properties case.

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